Duterte wants a cautious reopening of Philippine economy amid rising COVID-19 cases in the country

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 8) – President Rodrigo Duterte said he preferred a more careful approach in reopening the Philippine economy amid the rising COVID-19 cases in the country and relapse of infections in other countries.

In his weekly address to the nation aired early Wednesday morning from Davao City, Duterte stressed the country needs to be cautious in reviving the country’s economy as it cannot afford a spike in COVID-19 infections.

“So mga kababayan ko ginusto ko man --- ako, ako mismo personal gusto ko nang lumabas. Ayaw ko nang magpapigil. But we have to be very circumspect in reopening of the economy. Dahan-dahan lang,” the President said.

[Translation: To my countrymen, I personally want to get out. I cannot wait to go out. But we have to be very circumspect in reopening of the economy. Let’s reopen slowly.]

Duterte mentioned the countries of Japan, South Korea, China, and the United States, which reopened their economy but are now experiencing resurgence in their COVID-19 cases.

“Now what really happened in these countries was that although they opened their economy for money to come in to the government coffers, what happened is there was a spike. They were having a problem of almost a relapse, like relapse in the totality of the number. That is the hard consequence of it,” said Duterte.

The President emphasized he does not want to have a second wave of COVID-19 infections in the country as the government cannot afford its impact.

“Because if you open the entire Philippines and thousands upon thousands of new cases would happen, then we are in deep s***. Talagang mahirapan tayo. Unang-una wala tayong pera. (We will suffer from it. First is because we don’t have the money.),” he explained.

Duterte also mentioned in his speech the country is still grappling with the first wave of COVID-19 infections, as the number of active cases now stands at 34,178.

Only Cebu City remains under enhanced community quarantine or ECQ, the strictest form of community quarantine that imposes limited movement restrictions and strict stay-at-home orders.

Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said in the meeting the below-standard case doubling time and high critical utilization rate in Cebu City are the reasons why it is still under ECQ at least until July 15.

Case doubling time is the term used to describe the doubling of COVID-19 cases in a short span of time. Duque said the case doubling time in Cebu City is below seven days, meaning the virus spreads faster and infects many in a short period.

While the high critical utilization rate in Cebu City means the health systems capacity in the area has been maximized already.

National Capital Region, Benguet, Cavite, Rizal, Lapu Lapu City, Mandaue City, Leyte, Ormoc, Southern Leyte, and the towns of Talisay City, Minglanilla, and Consolacion in Cebu province are under general community quarantine.

Places under the more relaxed modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), with strict local action, are in:

– CAR: Abra, Baguio City, Ifugao, Kalinga

– Region 1: Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan

– Region 2: Cagayan, Isabela

– Region 3: Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Angeles City

– Region 4A: Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Lucena City

– Region 4B: Palawan, Puerto Princesa City

– Region 5: Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Naga City

– Region 6: Capiz, Iloilo, Iloilo City, Negros Occidental, Bacolod City

– Region 7: Cebu Province, Bohol, Negros Oriental

– Region 8: Tacloban City, Western Samar

– Region 9: Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur

– Region 10: Bukidnon, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Cagayan de Oro

– Region 11: Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao City, Davao de Oro

– Region 12: Cotabato, South Cotabato

– Region 13: Agusan del Norte, Butuan City

– BARMM: Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur

The rest of the country not mentioned in the three community quarantine settings will be on MGCQ of low risk classification.

To date, the country now has 47,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases along with 1,309 deaths and 12,386 recoveries.